A mobile native airline application

"Of the people who have any travel app installed, 90% have at least one airline app on their phone"

Ben Lovejoy


Airline applications are expected to be easy to use, but quite often malfunctioning features and displaced information generate negative feelings in airline users. Booking a flight can be frustrating if the user is overwhelmed by information and if they cannot find what they are looking for; customers are required to insert a lot of data such as locations, dates, times, personal information, credit card info, and they need to select many options such as fare types, flights, seats, and so on. With this in mind, I will show you how through my research, I have prioritized users needs, and gave them what they need, when they need it, and helped them achieve a much smoother and more enjoyable booking experience. These are the steps I took:


Competitive Benchmarking

There is no UX Design without Research. You simply cannot design, build, prototype and test a product that has not been researched and analysed first. Before I engaged with users to gather data and understand the main problems of a native application, I had wanted to analyse our most successful competitors first, and mark down their pain points, as well as their best design techniques. So I compiled a list of the most 6-8 successful airline companies, I defined their homepage, their buttons, their propositions and if their system is easy to use… if yes, why? if not, why not? and so on. At the end of my bench marking, I gathered all the data and placed it on a Power Point presentation.

Online Surveys

By running online surveys with many airline users, I was able to validate some of the pain points I had found, and also identify users’ main goals, behaviours and contexts.


I gathered qualitative data, and found that most people go on an airline site because they want to book a flight, check prices, dates, check in, or get their boarding pass. I also discovered that people are bothered by up-sells in the checkout area, don’t enjoy pop ups, and many changes of screens, can’t find baggage allowances, get confused, don’t want to pay for seats on short flights, and so on. On the other hand while gathering quantitative data, I found that 80% of people have used an airline application in the past 4 weeks, 95% of users would not book a hotel or car with the airline company, and that 68% received an average service of information while being on the site.


90% of users are wether looking to book a flight, check in, or download their boarding passes

Usability Testings

I observed and interviewed a few users while they were booking a flight with two different airline companies, and noticed that nearly all of them encountered confusion and lack of information in more or less the same areas. By also implementing in depth interview methods, I identified more of our users’ needs and issues with airline applications.


I perceived that users became frustrated when unavailable flights and dates appear, when fare types are not properly described, or impossible to find out more about it at all. Users want to know right away what they will be paying for, they expect the application to remember their data if for some reason the app shuts down, they need help often, and so on. I discovered how important it is for them to book a flight quickly, check prices rapidly, but also find flights that will get them to their destination as fast and as cheap as possible.

After interviewing users, I came to the conclusion that price, time, and visible information are extremely important for airline users, and will affect their booking experience, their mental model towards the airline company itself, and the desire to purchase a ticket. Not only I validated their needs, but I also got to know them as humans, and discovered more personal information they had in common, which helped me get deeper insights for the project.


Affinity Diagrams

After completing all the user research, I was ready to gather that unstructured data into a more complex structured representation, called the affinity diagram. I used this method to brainstorm all ideas in the team, and also to emphasize every single pain point experienced by users. Once I had enough key points, We gave them a structure, and built a small user flow on it.



Costumer Journey maps

After doing research, and creating an affinity diagram, I used that data to make a costumer journey map. A journey map is a representation that visualizes what costumers feel when interacting with our company and products. With this highly structured data, I summarized and highlighted all users’ goals, behaviors, context, pain points and mental models, which are always different in every state of the application. I highly empathized users, and the right research led to me to get a really good understanding of their feelings throughout their booking experience.

User Flows - Flow Diagrams

People have more than a thousand of navigation options while using an airline app, and there is an unlimited number of flows or “booking paths” that our users might take while on an airline application. So, I decided to take in consideration only the 4-5 most popular user flows, with their according screen states, actions, micro actions, feedbacks and variations; i drew them on paper first, and then developed them even more on Adobe XD. Thanks to user flows I got a very deep understanding of human-machines relationships in an airline context and how to work around that. I discovered that if I made flows easy for most users, also people with different unique needs will be accommodated as well.



Sketching and high fidelity mockups

After months of user research, I started a high fidelity mockup on paper. Throughout this process I sketched several times the same screens and screen states until I got the results I thought would fit best our users. I'd go through the sketches, interact with them, look back at the case studies and re-sketch again. Once I was satisfied with the low fidelity sketch, I converted it to a medium-high fidelity sketch, and then I was ready to convert it to a digital prototype.

Medium fidelity prototype on Adobe XD

Throughout the prototyping journey, I focused on solving complications that were previously found by users while booking a flight, and I succeeded in it.  But with the making of a whole new application, also new challenges and problems started coming out, and I dealt with those by running usability testings more often at this stage. That is why I built a medium fidelity prototype, which gave me the possibility to get a real feeling of the application and  easily redesign it in a short amount of time.


Seat selection in the interface

Watch full video of the prototype here

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